by Jim Nintzel
We've seen plenty of BS in congressional races this year, with our favorite being the Big Lie that Democrats cut more than $700 billion from Medicare. That one has been debunked repeatedly by FactCheck.org and PolitiFact, although that didn't stop Mitt Romney from using it again in this week's presidential debate.
Now it's Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick who is leveling phony claims against Republican Jonathan Paton in the race for Congressional District 1, which includes Oro Valley, Marana, much of rural eastern Arizona and Flagstaff.
Kirkpatrick's latest TV ad, which you can see above, accuses Paton of wasting more than $200 million while serving on the Rio Nuevo Board.
The narrator in the ad says that Paton "served on the Rio Nuevo and wasted $200 million of taxpayers' money. Now it's under criminal investigation and could cost us another $72 million."
Rio Nuevo has a long and troubled history, but if you want to claim that $200 million was wasted, you have to acknowledge that the money was wasted when the city of Tucson and the original Rio Nuevo Board were in charge of the downtown revitalization project. Paton called for audits of that spending while serving in the Arizona Legislature and pushed to see a new board formed that stripped control from the city of Tucson.
By the time Paton joined the new Rio Nuevo Board following his resignation from the state Senate to pursue an unsuccessful bid for Congress in 2010, the Rio Nuevo Board members had stopped spending money on almost anything besides audits and attorneys.
Regarding the criminal investigation: It's our understanding that the FBI has been assisting the Arizona Attorney General's Office with looking into what happened with spending before the new board was created. That investigation has dragged on a long time without any criminal charges being filed. The charge that Paton's activities are under criminal investigation doesn't stand up to scrutiny.
You can be critical of the reformed Rio Nuevo board that Paton joined for filing lawsuits instead of pushing forward with repairs to the Tucson Convention Center, but accusing him of being part of the group that wasted hundreds of millions of dollars is simply false.